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Photograph (Experimental Photogenic Drawing), by Sir John Herschel, 1842

Inventory Number: 19112
Object Type:
Persons: Sir John Frederick William Herschel (Photographer)
Date Created: 1842
Accession Number: 1928-71
Brief Description: Experimental photogenic drawing by Sir John Herschel, undated but 1842. The annotation describes the 'argentotype' process, the sister process of the chrysotype using silver instead of gold to develop a semi-latent image. The yellow colour is characteristic of the iron-based sensitising chemistry, while the surviving area of very fine purply-brown detail is a vestige of the high quality the process (like the chrysotype) appeared to be capable of. Like all silver processes it should have been fixable with hypo, but perhaps Herschel left this experiment unfixed. Double border, which sometimes indicates a positive print.

Subject: engraving, not discernible, double border
Technique: ?contact copy
Format: inscription horizontal
Polarity: xxx
Orientation: not apparent
Quality: mostly no discernible image, but area of very fine purply-brown detail
Colour: blotchy yellow and pale brownish, purply-brown vestigial image, yellowy blotchy back
Chemistry: iron based, developed with silver nitrate, probably unfixed
Coating: none
Inscription: number, procedural and chemical notes
Paper: thin
Condition: good
Purpose: an experimental argentotype (see above).

For fuller descriptive and historical commentary see narratives.
Primary Inscriptions: '771 [mark like superscript 2] good [sun symbol] h --[long dash] a pale pict just discernl[?] then weak NS' [nitrate of silver; in Herschel's hand]. '771' on front.
Provenance: Presented by Miss Herschel and Lady Lubbock in 1928. They were the two surviving and youngest children of Sir John Herschel (Francisca and Constance).
Collection Group: Herschel's Photographic Experiments
Material(s): Paper
Height Width Depth Diameter Unit
99 125 mm


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